Spending the summer touring New Mexico and southern Colorado as an actor and director for a youth theatre organization isn’t the typical job for a college physics major who will likely be joining the workforce as an engineer.
Paul Lewis, however, can’t be pinned down by a single label. A rising senior at Albion College, Lewis minors in philosophy, plays the bass trombone in the jazz band, performs on stage—he starred in one of the lead roles in the College’s 2011 production of Once on This Island—and competes in cross country, track and field, and diving. He is a two-time qualifier for the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship as well as a three-time all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association performer on the trail.
Lewis is sharing his love of the arts with school-age children while touring with the Missoula (Mont.) Children’s Theatre for a production of The Tortoise and the Hare this summer. Joined by a partner from MCT, Lewis arrives in a city each Sunday in a truck packed with all the supplies needed for the full-scale theatrical presentation. The pair from MCT selects the cast—optimally 58 kids, but there is room for 65—and begins rehearsals on Monday with the culmination being the show on Saturday.
“I like physics a lot, but the arts are my true love,” Lewis said. “I like being able to express myself. I feel free doing anything artistic. I don’t get that opportunity doing much else.
“[A summer job with MCT] never appeared on my radar,” Lewis added. “It’s a fun job because I love kids, acting and to travel. It is great to see a different landscape and culture.”
Being able to participate in three varsity sports as well as other extracurricular activities is a key factor in why Lewis chose to attend Albion.
“I was almost dead set on going to Michigan State, and when I told them all of the things I wanted to do on top of running—like diving, swimming, acting, traveling abroad—the coaches basically told me I would have to redshirt and take a year off,” Lewis said.
“Then I presented [cross country coach] Hayden Smith with the same scenario and he said it was fine.”
When Lewis does have some downtime, he can be found playing Nintendo 64 or watching The Cosby Show on Netflix. But in truth, running is what gives Lewis his real break from his responsibilities.
“You don’t have to think about anything, or worry about anything,” he said, perking up a bit. “You are just out there.”
Lewis will return to Albion just ahead of the cross country team’s training camp for the 2013 season. In addition to the MIAA meets—the jamboree is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Adrian and the championship Nov. 2 in Holland—the Britons will take an October trip to California for a meet at Cal State San Marcos.
Photograph: Paul Lewis (right) starred as one of the leads in the 2011 College production of Once on This Island.